16 June 2024

Film Review – Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could they didn’t stop to think if they should” lambasts Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm in his typically articulate yet brusque manner in 1993’s Jurassic Park. While that speech – with added Goldblum table banging magic – focused on bringing dinosaurs back to life, his words could quite easily be attributed to the now six-strong Dino-franchise that shows no signs of slowing down. Change the scientists to filmmakers and the statement rings very true: just because they could keep churning out pale imitations of Steven Spielberg‘s original, doesn’t mean that they should have. Thirty years later, Jurassic World: Dominion confirms one thing: this franchise is headed for extinction.

Baffling in its execution almost from the off, Dominion fails primarily because it is overstuffed to within an inch of its life: in the story (humans and dinosaurs living together, mass hysteria. Also naughty science labs, killer locusts, clones, and more), in characters, in dinosaurs, in locusts (yep, locusts), in set-pieces, and much more therein. It falls into the same trap as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in that it tries to undo any of what fans didn’t like about its predecessor (here, the equally dull Fallen Kingdom), and resuscitate it to something better while embracing the new “legacy” fad that is Hollywood’s new obsession. If done well – see Scream (5) or Ghostbusters: Afterlife (sure that last one will go down well) – it can add a nice layer of nostalgia while never trampling on what has come before. 

In Dominion, it’s hard to say that aspect fails completely given Goldblum, Dern, and Neill are such accomplished performers (but it feels like a desperate attempt to re-energise the series again as the new guard – namely Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard – continue to underwhelm and while their appearances are most welcome, you wonder if just having them would have worked so much better. That said, they too are undone by Colin Trevorrow’s busy, chaotic yet lifeless direction that lacks any of Spielberg’s verve or panache while he and Emily Carmichael‘s screenplay baffles in logic, and focus (this should have been Locusts vs Clones: Dominion) and execution. Perhaps its greatest sin is that, despite Goldblum’s best efforts, it is totally bereft of any real humour. 

Is it entertaining? In a hollow, cumbersome way, especially when the old-timers and new recruits Mamadou Athie and DeWanda Wise are on point, and it’s sure to go down well with multiplex audiences thirsty for what could be their final round of Dino-shenanigans (if this makes the likely $1billion, that’s probably not true). But this is lazy, underwhelming, paint-by-numbers blockbuster fare that is becoming an increasingly frustrating part of the summer fare, and with Top Gun: Maverick showing everyone how it should be done across the board, it proves many are passed simply accepting “churned out” sequels. Think smarter, not necessarily bigger, Hollywood.

★★


Action, Adventure | Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment | 12A | 2022 | Dir: Colin Trevorrow | Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Isabella Sermon, DeWanda Wise, Mamadou Athie, Campbell Scott, B.D. Wong,


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